Retro dominated the late ’90s themed cars. The PT Cruiser came only after the hugely popular New Beetle from VW hit the market. The PT Cruiser had retro-themed styling and inviting styling. But the quality of the PT Cruiser was where things started to fall apart from the gate (via It Still Runs).
Consumers reported numerous quality problems, with the main one centering around the transmission. The repair costs of owning a PT Cruiser were exorbitant, and it affected the resale value of the car. To this day, finding a used PT Cruiser is like finding a needle in a haystack. The build quality wasn’t the best, and reliability is questionable the more that these cars age.
In addition to the original PT Cruiser released, there was also the short-lived PT Cruiser Convertible. Chrysler was hoping to appeal to a younger demographic, and thus a convertible was the next best option. The main problem is that the PT Cruiser isn’t the most appealing car to turn into a convertible model (via Hagerty).
The PT Cruiser convertible was available with an optional turbocharged engine. While performance was initially compelling, poor reliability crept up quickly. There were many costly repair issues that made the PT Cruiser Convertible a pain to live with. Car shoppers weren’t willing to deal with these reliability issues.
It’s not often that the Chrysler brand gets a unique model separate from the Dodge and Jeep brand names. The Crossfire was a unique sports car, and it shared the underpinnings with the Mercedes-Benz SLK. For some reason though, the styling was a tad bit hideous with an awkward-shaped rear-end (via Motor Biscuit).
Consumers didn’t warm up to the Crossfire at all, and a lot of it had to do with the styling. There were some unique features, such as an electronic spoiler. But it simply wasn’t enough to justify the price tag of the car. Plus, the Mercedes engineering meant the repair costs were much more expensive than the average Chrysler model.
The Crossfire also had a lesser-known trim package. The SRT package is the performance package Chrysler has thrown on many cars. With the Crossfire SRT, there was a new ground effects kit and a more aggressive front fascia. The supercharged engine was a nice touch, but the final product still felt cheap to consumers (via Car and Driver).
The styling of the Crossfire wasn’t as liked by consumers as it was. Then you throw in the fact that the Crossfire suffered from a hideous design, and the SRT-6 wasn’t appealing. Few sports cars have been as universally panned as the Crossfire SRT-6 was. There were simply better options for the price, including the Mercedes-Benz SLK itself.
Believe it or not, Chrysler has had its fair share of sports cars in the past. The Conquest had a fairly well-known twin with the Mitsubishi Starion. However, most casual automotive enthusiasts don’t remember that Chrysler had its own version of the car. The Conquest was a boxy little sports car that didn’t offer anything terribly unique (via The Truth About Cars).
But in the 1980s, the Chrysler lineup was littered with imports and other badge-engineered vehicles. The Conquest didn’t have a chance to stand out, especially in a world of Camaros and Mustangs. You’ll seldom encounter a Conquest on the road anymore, and that’s because build quality was simply shoddy at best.
Perhaps there is no car more forgotten than the Chrysler Cirrus. Released in-between the LeBaron and the future Sebring, the Cirrus was a carbon copy of the Dodge Stratus. Because Chrysler had released a trio of these sedans in the 1990s, the Cirrus was the “luxury” option. But the Cirrus was anything but a luxurious vehicle (via Motor Trend).
The compact dimensions gave the car an inferior feeling compared to other sedans from this era. The Cirrus was notoriously unreliable, as were many Chrysler sedans from this era. Transmission failure was also normal, even while the car was still under warranty. Given the fact that the Cirrus was not actually the more refined vehicle compared to other sedans, it was quite the disappointment.
For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Chrysler brand had three distinct sedans for sale. The Concorde, LHS, and 300M. All three of these sedans shared the LH Platform with the Dodge Intrepid. Consumers were privy to this fact because all three cars looked exactly alike. The Concorde suffered from many reliability issues during its run (via Motor Trend).
Transmission failure was the norm in the Chrysler LH sedans, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. The 2.7L V6 engine is widely considered one of the worst engines Chrysler ever made. Due to a faulty oil level design, the engine would sludge and suffer from catastrophic failure. There were many class-action lawsuits filed against Chrysler because of the horrible engine design.
Another sedan that suffered from a treasure trove of reliability problems was the Chrysler 300M. Chrysler marketed the 300M as a sport sedan, but in reality, it was your run-of-the-mill Intrepid. Its lousy engine designs were the main thing that hampered the 300M. With competition from more experienced automakers, it was hard to justify the cost of a 300M (via Motor Trend).
Chrysler would replace the 300M in 2005 with the 300C. The latter was a much better car through and through. The cab-forward sedans Chrysler tried to force-feed consumers during the 1990s will go down as notorious lemons. There were much better options drivers could get during this era of automotive design.
The 1990s were an unusual time for Chrysler as an automotive brand. There was a concerted effort to brand Chrysler as a true luxury brand. With the onset of Lexus and Japanese automakers, Chrysler had to act quickly. The Imperial was a straight-laced luxury sedan that shared the Y platform with many other Chrysler models (via The Truth About Cars).
The Imperial is a nameplate Chrysler returns to from time to time. However, the final model simply didn’t do much to invigorate the brand. Consumers were looking for more than a jazzed-up K-Car and the Imperial simply didn’t cut the mustard. There were other luxury cars on the market at the time that offered a lot more for the equivalent price.
Chrysler sold the Sebring alongside the Sebring Convertible for almost two decades. When you think about a lackluster car, the Sebring comes to mind. With a notoriously cheap design, the Sebring sedan was as barebones of a car as you could get. The cheap interior was only magnified by the lack of refinement within the car (via Consumer Affairs).
The Chrysler Sebring was about as cheap of a car as you could get. It wasn’t the best setup considering that Chrysler is marketed as a fairly upscale brand. With the paltry reliability and questionable build quality, the Sebring missed the mark in more ways than one. Chrysler has since exited the small car market and only the 300C remains.
The Sebring Convertible was launched in 1995 as a 1996 model, replacing the outgoing LeBaron. The styling of the Sebring Convertible was fairly modern with lots of rounded corners. The performance was more than adequate for a convertible, and the pricing was reasonable. Initially, the Sebring Convertible was one of the best-selling Chryslers on the market (via Car and Driver).
The problem was that the reliability of the Sebring was questionable. As the car aged, there were issues with the transmission and overheating that buyers began to notice. There were also issues with the luxury features malfunctioning, such as the automatic convertible top. Overall, the Sebring has garnered a lackluster reputation as a used car.
For a short period, the Chrysler Laser was the only sports car to bear a Chrysler badge. Developed in partnership with Mitsubishi, the car had a lot going for it. Likewise, there were also many drawbacks to the Laser. The cheap build quality was a major contributor to the lackluster reputation the car had (via Jalopnik).
The Laser had a full digital dashboard similar to other cars from this era. That same digital dashboard is known for failing as the car ages. There were also issues that pertained to the head gasket and overheating. Overall, the Laser is not the sports car or even one of many Chrysler cars drivers would want to invest time and money into.
Believe it or not, you’ve read this heading correctly. There was indeed a Chrysler sports car designed by Maserati. Developed in partnership with Maserati to get rid of the ‘blue-collar’ image Chrysler had. The Chrysler TC was built in Italy, and there was a small production run on the car (via Motor Trend).
The two-door sports car did not persuade consumers, and like the Cadillac Allante, it quickly faded into obscurity. Chrysler is not the first brand name that comes to mind when you think of an exotic sports car. Justifying the high price tag for the TC wasn’t an easy task and the car was eventually discontinued.
It was the mid-2000s, and every automaker had to have an SUV model. The Chrysler brand was without an SUV model, and thus the Pacifica was born. The Pacifica was one of the first crossover SUVs to hit the car market. The styling was new in 2004, but nowadays is the norm when you spot a crossover (via Motor Trend).
From a performance perspective, the Pacifica was underpowered. It competed against a barrage of considerable V8-powered SUVs on the market. The styling was also different from what consumers were used to at the time. The Pacifica didn’t end up being a success for Chrysler and was ultimately discontinued until years later.
The early 1990s Chrysler New Yorker was a small luxury sedan based on the K Car platform. For many Chrysler models, the K Car platform was fine, but competing against Cadillac and Lincoln took something a bit more substantial. The Fifth Avenue package was supposed to address the concerns of luxury car shoppers (via Hagerty).
Instead, the car was cheaply designed with an emphasis on interior comfort only. The exterior, drive train, and the rest of the car were all pretty much unchanged. With new competition from Lexus and Acura, the buyers for the Fifth Avenue weren’t there. The car faded into obscurity fairly quickly as Chrysler redirected toward a cab-forward design.
In the 1990s, Chrysler was trying to position the brand even more upmarket than before. The LHS sedan was designed to complete this mission as the most expensive model. Initially, the LHS had some unique features, such as a built-in car phone. But the initial quality of the LHS was questionable at best, and the car eventually faded into obscurity (via The Truth About Cars).
If you took a look at an old LHS and a Chrysler Concorde, drivers couldn’t tell the difference. Both of these cars were carbon copies of each other and this confused consumers. There were much better luxury sedans on the market than the LHS. Chrysler couldn’t compete with the onslaught of new luxury models coming out.
In what was meant to be a performance-oriented car, the LeBaron GTS was a four-door hatchback model. The car was based on the Mitsubishi Lancer at the time and had the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine whereas the main LeBaron Convertible and Sedan were based on a cushier riding platform (via All Par).
The LeBaron GTS will go down as one of the weirdest Chrysler models. For a brand that had positioned itself as a luxury car brand, the LeBaron GTS was an oddity. The cheap design and tacky appearance of the car made it seem out of place. Chrysler had more than a few of these failures in the late 1980s and early ’90s.